5 March 2014
Jack Hawskworth gets IndyCar seat with Bryan Herta Autosport
British racer Jack Hawksworth is to get a full season in the IndyCar Series in 2014 after being signed up by Bryan Herta Autosport.
The race seat of the #98 Bryan Herta Autosport car has gone to 23-year-old British driver Jack Hawksworth, the team announced on Wednesday.
BHA had been trying out a number of drivers over the months since it parted company with Alex Tagliani. Among those who had worked with the team with the hope of sealing a race deal for 2014 were JR Hildebrand and former GP2 driver Luca Filippi, but in the end the seat went to the Indy Lights driver after he successfully tested with them at Sebring International Raceway in January.
"Quite frankly, Jack really impressed us with a very strong test in Sebring last month," said BHA team co-owner Bryan Herta. "He has had success at every level he has competed in to date and we believe he has the skills to maintain that going into the IndyCar series.
"Jack is well aware of the level of competition he is stepping into and we look forward to the season ahead," Herta added. Certainly the #98 means Hawksworth now has some big shoes to fill: it's the same car number and team that powered his compatriot Dan Wheldon to Indy 500 victory in 2011.
"I am absolutely delighted to be racing for Bryan Herta Autosport in the 2014 IndyCar Series," said Hawksworth. "It has been a dream of mine for many years and I can't wait to get started.
"We had a great first test in Sebring that has given us a solid foundation on which to build our campaign," he continued. "There's a lot of talent and potential in the #98 team.
"I feel very fortunate to be a part of it and look forward to an exciting year ahead. I have to say a big thank you to Bryan, Steve, the team and everyone involved for putting their trust in me! I can't wait to get to work!"
He'll have his first chance in next week's open test at Barber Motorsports Park, the venue for next month's Grand Prix of Alabama. The first race of the 2014 IndyCar Series takes place in St Petersburg in Florida on March 30.
Hawksworth - originally from Bradford in West Yorkshire - started racing karts at the age of 13 and won the national Gold Cup competition in only his sixth karting race, before moving onto open wheel racing in 2010 in the highly competitive Formula Renault UK Winter Series.
He then took the decision to move to the United States in 2011 and dedicated himself to the 'Road to Indy' ladder that saw him progress from the Star Mazda Series which he dominated in 2012 through to the Firestone Indy Lights Series in 2013, which saw him win three races and finish fourth overall in the championship.
Herta thanked Hildebrand and Filippi for their work with the team over the last few months, and hinted that the Italian came very close to clinching the race deal by saying that "Luca would be the first guy I'd call" if there were any chance of BHA running a second team in the future.
"As usual the winter never brings me much luck," Filippi posted on Twitter after the BHA announcement. "It normally never comes to me with too many surprises. But, it is what it is."
"I'm frankly surprised no one else has hired him," added Herta, although he acknowledged that given Filippi's lack of oval racing experience, even if BHA was able to fund a second entry into the Indy 500 then it might still be the more oval-inclined Hildebrand who would get the call in preference.
BHA also confirmed this week that it had ended its naming rights deal with Barracuda Networks and will formally revert to the BHA name in 2014, supported by a number of new sponsors including Castrol.
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